Feb 9, 2011

Eggs: New evidence says they're good for you

According to new nutrition data just released by the United States Department of Agriculture, eggs are 14% lower in cholesterol than previously thought. The analysis also revealed that large eggs now contain 41 IU of vitamin D—an increase of 64% over previous data. These new numbers are thought to reflect nutritional changes in hens' feed.

The data was collected by the Agricultural Research Service’s Nutrient Data Laboratory, which last undertook this testing procedure in 2002. These new results can be viewed online at the USDA site, and will be updated on egg carton nutrition labels and elsewhere. 

I read the new data early this morning and immediately headed out to the kitchen to celebrate by scrambling a couple of eggs. Over the years, I—probably like many of you—have kept my intake of eggs to about 2 per week. But increasing evidence from studies by the USDA and others indicates that such a careful attitude may not be necessary.

"My research focuses on ways to optimize diet quality,” says Dr. David Katz, Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, “and I have long suspected that eliminating eggs from the diet generally has the opposite effect. In our own studies of egg intake, we have seen no harmful effects—even in people with high blood cholesterol."

Now researchers are saying that an egg a day can fall within current cholesterol guidelines, particularly if individuals opt for low-cholesterol foods throughout the day. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that eating one whole egg per day does not result in increased blood cholesterol levels and recommend that individuals consume, on average, less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. A single large egg contains 185 mg cholesterol. 

Eggs are rich with nutrients. One large egg contains 10% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D (which plays an important role in calcium absorption), as well as 6 grams of protein and many other vitamins and minerals. And all delivered with only 70 calories.

You can learn more about eggs at the Egg Nutrition Center or at the American Egg Board site (which also contains recipes).

Photo: © 2011 Suzanne Rodriguez

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